They went by in a blur.
Our little knot of neighbors cheered.
Sunday morning sure wasn’t its usual self in Eastwood.
The Syracuse Half Marathon wound its way down our three blocks of Syracuse city living, and near the bottom of the hill, eight people and one amped-up Dogamous Pyle altered the routine to welcome the 1,014 runners.
Earlier in the week, Good Neighbor Tim had told me that the 13.1 miles through our city included our street. Race started downtown at 8. We were on mile five. Expect them to run past about 8:25. Tim knows his stuff.
Before 8, organizers claimed the space. Orange cones marked the runner’s path. They would stay to the right. Police successfully found the key-holder for the rented moving van parked on the wrong side of the road. They moved it from smack-dab-in-the-middle. An excited planner agreed with my suggestion that a huge pothole should be marked. A smaller orange cone soon rose above the puddle.
New Neighbor Kelly and friends hung homemade signs on the edge of the street. Runners would appreciate the handiwork and good humor.
Kelly and Tim placed chairs in their driveways. They went unused during the next hour. Too much action to sit, although Dogamous, aka Ellie B, did listen to that command a couple of times during her 10 minutes of woofing at runners from the end of her leash before retiring to wag at runners from the inside half of our picture window.
Sure enough, a couple minutes past 8:25, a pair of leaders thundered down the hill. The two men wore shorts and runner’s T’s, seriously cranking their own heat on this chilly morning in the 30s.
Indeed, the next 100 or so runners weren’t wearing a whole lot that could be considered constricting, or warm, for that matter.
The two leading women came down the hill side-by-side, too, faces a picture of concentration.
Soon enough, though, the mood changed. Runners wore more, spandex leggings of all colors, sweatshirts, winter hats, even. They answered our cheers with waves and thank-you-for-your-support messages. Many shouted an answer to one of Kelly’s signs. Yes, they did wish the whole route was downhill. Some coveted my coffee cup.
One woman recognized me, baseball cap and all, from my music writer days. “My husband’s a bass player!” she shouted as she waved. A former colleague said hi. “Great job, Keith,” I encouraged.
Indeed, I was impressed by one and all. Each had a mission. A handful wanted to win, surely. A bunch wanted top 100, certainly. All 1,014 had a goal. Beat a best time. Don’t slow to a walk. Finish a half-marathon for the first time ever.
The styles were many. Legs kicking up high behind them. Small movements to conserve energy. Speed building confidently from the hill’s momentum. Trepidation showing with slowing steps to counter the very same slope.
A bit after 9, a solo runner navigated our hill.
“I’m the finale!” she said.
We urged her on down the lane.